BACKGROUND The Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi was the first Rotana hotel to open, in 1993. There are 27 operational properties in the portfolio and Rotana aims to have more than 68 across the Middle East and North Africa by 2012, including new hotels in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Amman, Baghdad, Bahrain, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Fujairah, Khartoum, Libya, Rabat, Salalah, Sharjah and Sohar.
WHAT'S IT LIKE The property has two wings – the Beach and the Tower, which was added in 2002. They meet in the middle in a lovely circular lobby with a colourful, spiralling ceiling. The back of the hotel overlooks gardens leading to the beach, and while it used to have a clear view of the Persian Gulf, now it faces the building site of the new financial district on the reclaimed land of Suwa Island. It’s a shame, but development is happening all over the city at the moment, and once the site is finished it will be much easier on the eye.
WHERE IS IT? In the Tourist Club Area, 40 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi airport and an hour and a half from Dubai airport.
ROOM FACILITIES Classic rooms are housed in the Beach wing and other categories in the Tower wing. All rooms have broadband internet access (Dhs 60/£10 for an hour), a safe, minibar, tea and coffee facilities, a desk, a flatscreen TV (Classic rooms have standard TVs) and large comfortable beds. Some 413 of the 565 rooms are sea-facing with balconies. The bathrooms have hotel-branded toiletries (Club Rotana rooms and all categories above have L’Occitane offerings), and bathrooms in Classic rooms have a combined bath and shower. My Premium room on the 11th floor had light and dark wood furniture. The bathroom had a walk-in rain and power shower, and a spa bath. There’s a nightly turn-down service and 24-hour room service. Guests staying in Club Rotana rooms, across eight floors in the Tower wing, have access to the Club Rotana lounge on the 18th floor. Free breakfast is served here from 6.30am-10.30am, snacks are laid out from 7pm-8.30pm and there is a happy hour between 7pm and 10pm. Internet access is free.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Café Columbia is the lobby bar, open from 8am-11.30pm. Breakfast is served at Rosebuds, in the Beach wing – it serves a range of international cuisine and is also open for lunch and dinner. Prego’s Italian restaurant serves huge homely portions and is open for lunch and dinner, as is Rodeo Grill, a steak house. Brauhaus restaurant and terrace serves German fare and has a popular bar, and Indigo is a contemporary Indian restaurant open for lunch and dinner. I ate here one evening on the terrace and the food and service was superb. Finz is on the beach and serves enormous platters of fresh seafood. A branch of the French Polynesian chain Trader Vic’s is open until 11.30pm. There’s also a sushi restaurant and a pool café.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES These are extensive and range from stylish boardrooms to luxurious ballrooms for up to 1,000 people. The gardens and pool area are also used for events. Just off the lobby is a staffed business centre (open 7am-midnight) with four computers and a meeting room. Wired internet access costs the same as in the rooms, and wifi is Dhs 90 (£15) for 24 hours.
LEISURE FACILITIES The hotel’s pièce de résistance is Zen the Spa (open 10am-10pm), which has 12 treatment rooms. The treatment menu favours massages and uses aromatherapy, but I opted for a Rasul mud treatment, which was cleansing and energising. There are three tennis courts, an aerobics studio and a gym overlooking the beach and outdoor infinity pool.The hotel is connected to Abu Dhabi Mall, full of well-known brands.
VERDICT The Club floors and varied meeting and dining facilities make this a great choice for business travellers. The spa is glorious and the service top-notch.
HOW MANY ROOMS There are 565 rooms and suites, including 228 Classic rooms, 60 Premium rooms, 88 Club Rotana rooms, ten Classic Tower suites, five Premium suites, 14 Classic Club Rotana suites, six Club Rotana suites and two Royal suites. There are also long-stay suites available at the Beach Rotana Suites (part of the hotel but on the other side of Abu Dhabi Mall).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The sea views, the rainshower and the spa bath.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in July started from Dhs 596 (£99) for a Classic room.
CONTACT Beach Rotana Hotel and Towers, Tourist Club Area; tel +971 2697 9000; rotana.com